A heart for hats: Sequim woman’s caring craft spans the globe

From the North Olympic Peninsula to across the world, Phyllis Peashka’s handiwork is warming hearts and keeping heads warm, too.

With about three decades of donating her handiwork – mostly hats, but sometimes a scarf or a potholder or a baby afghan — the 96-year-old Sequim resident figures she has a cap on about 10,000 heads across the globe.

She keeps track of where they go, too.

“Germany, China, India, Norway, Ireland, New Zealand, Mongolia, Australia, Canada, Brazil,” she says.

And there’s the ones she’s sent stateside: “Connecticut, Minnesota, Utah, California, Colorado, Utah (you get the picture here?), Idaho, Nevada, New Mexico, Montana, Mississippi, Washington of course, Alaska.”

And there’s the local groups: Boys & Girls Club, Forks Abuse Center, Concerned Citizens for Disabled Youth, VFWs, various community auctions and efforts to help the homeless.

“She’s touched so many lives,” says next-door neighbor Karen Kremkau, who looks after Peashka each week.

“She totally amazes me. I’ve never seen how Phyllis puts it all together.”

Peashka just grins and shrugs.

“The joy is just doing it so I can give somebody something,” she says.

“I just get bored from sitting here. My hands cramp up, but I keep going.”

Peashka, who raised four children — daughters Barbara, Cheryl and Joni, and son Tom — in Richland, taught herself to crochet after she got her nimble hands on a book for left-handers.

That was maybe, 60, 70 years ago, Peashka says. She worked on big afghans and quilts for years, but nowadays she is sticking primarily with smaller works.

Peashka recently finished a batch of 10 purple hats for infants with Shaken Baby Syndrome.

For years she lived in Gooding, Idaho, before making the move to Sequim in January of 2001.

Friend Sally Harris-Crawford, who lives nearby, said she met Peashka through a program at her church where two or three members visit local residents.

“I just fell in love with her,” Harris-Crawford says. “It’s just been a real nice relationship.”

Harris-Crawford, who visits Peashka each week for a game of Scrabble, notes of her friend, “She won’t take money. All she wants is yarn.”

Phyllis Peashka says she taught herself to crochet. She figures she makes at least one hat, scarf or potholder per day. “My hands cramp up, but I keep going.” Sequim Gazette photo by Michael Dashiell

Phyllis Peashka says she taught herself to crochet. She figures she makes at least one hat, scarf or potholder per day. “My hands cramp up, but I keep going.” Sequim Gazette photo by Michael Dashiell

With decades of donating hats and scarves, Phyllis Peashka estimates she’s completed at least 10,000 pieces over the years. Sequim Gazette photo by Michael Dashiell

With decades of donating hats and scarves, Phyllis Peashka estimates she’s completed at least 10,000 pieces over the years. Sequim Gazette photo by Michael Dashiell

Sally Harris-Crawford and Phyllis Peashka start one of their weekly Scrabble games last week. Peashka recently turned 96. Sequim Gazette photo by Michael Dashiell

Sally Harris-Crawford and Phyllis Peashka start one of their weekly Scrabble games last week. Peashka recently turned 96. Sequim Gazette photo by Michael Dashiell

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